Food safety guidance for dog friendly food businesses
Lots of people mistakenly believe it’s against the law to have dogs in restaurants, cafes and pubs where food is served. In Northern Ireland it is the decision of the business owner whether to allow dogs on the premises or not.
The only legal obligation for the owner of such a business, is to make sure there is no risk of contamination and that all food preparation areas are up to specified hygiene standards. There are no health and safety regulations relating to dogs entering a business premises.
To ensure food hygiene regulations are met business owners (and dog owners) must prevent dogs from entering any areas where food is stored, handled, prepared, or cooked. For most premises, these are areas where a customer would not be expected to gain access to either, such as the kitchen, but also includes the counter where food is served.
Our environmental health team is responsible for ensuring businesses have adequate controls in place to prevent food contamination. We undertake regular inspections and will respond to any concern or complaint from the public. These are investigated on a case by case basis.
Hygiene advice for food business owners:
dogs are not allowed in areas where food is prepared, handled or stored
do not place your dog on the table, a chair, or your lap
staff should not touch dogs or handle materials that have been in contact with dogs
food staff must wash their hands immediately if they have direct or indirect contact with dogs
restrict dogs to certain parts of the premises
materials or objects that have been in contact with dogs, including dog bowls, should not be brought into food areas and should not be cleaned in food equipment or utensil sinks
any dog fouling must be immediately and thoroughly cleaned with disposable materials and disinfectant. This must be followed by thorough staff handwashing
Good practice for dog friendly restaurants
make sure there is room for the dogs to sit or lie comfortably without causing an obstruction or creating a tripping hazard. This will protect both the dogs and customers
ensure owners are informed of the house rules for dogs on premises, these may include that dogs are: never left unattended
always keep your dog on a lead and never on a retractable lead unless it is locked to the shortest position
only allowed in certain areas of the premises
dogs are the responsibility of the owner at all times
have dog bowls available for water and food
have dog food available to buy
have procedures in place for cleaning up accidents